The Russia Conversation

by darkjade68

To Me This Is An Important Time…

Then Again… It’s Always An Important Time To Be Awake, And Alert…

Here’s An Article, And Many, Many Replies To It (Original Article Can Be Found Here)

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The Russian Renovatio: The Ukraine Outcome You Don’t Want to Think About

Posted: 03/04/2014 12:04 pm EST Updated: 03/04/2014 12:59 pm EST

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In 1991, after raising her up for fifty years, calling her a “superpower”a title she had never held before — in sudden victory the United States cruelly spurned its longtime Cold War helpmate and conjugal geopolitical partner. World terms had changed: We did not need her anymore. Worse yet, she was inconvenient, except in her fallen estate, to showcase our own celestial greatness. After decades of fidelity to the terms of US world primacy — always accepting us as the senior superpower — Mother Soviet’s final act in history, in its fall and subsequent wreckage, was to exalt America’s millennial seizure. History was ours now, and we brought it to a triumphal end.

So discarded, spurned, and reviled, we Americans left the Soviet Union’s broken shards where they lay, on the ash heap of History: A monument to our contempt, we said, for all time.

But Holy Rossiya was still there. Not that we paid much attention in those days. We actually expected a Yeltsin Federation lap dog — which we deigned to pat absent-mindedly from time-to-time, as in helping them take care of “loose nukes,” like a nanny cleaning up an old mess. We even let them build a service module for the International Space Station (those Russians can do some things well, after all).

Yet we did not hesitate to casually diss them when it suited our sacred narrative. My vignette from Davos, 1994, is razor-etched in memory: There was Jeffrey Sachs — for all the world, a Tom Wolfe “Master of the Universe” incarnate — surrounded by fawning global machers and movers, all desperate to get just a little slice of face-time with a new god. And just what was the fount of his godhead? Why, it was the tough-love he was personally visiting on the former Soviet Union, the flagellant-penitentes course that would in the end, assuredly, make them all good Jeffersonian democrats.

[In retrospect, he sees things differently.]

Truth is, America not only helped Putin happen — America guaranteed Putin. The once and future Czar was engineered by our shaming and defilement of After-Soviet Russia. Because we are such nationalist narcissists, if we ever even come to see this, we will still find a way to make it somehow all about ourselves. Thus we can chide ourselves about the perils of American Triumphalism, or scold about “blowback.”

But it was never about us — it was about them. It was about Russians. It was about how we treated a defeated idea that also happened to be a people with an identity force in history as strong as our own — and a civilization that will never let itself be dismissed.

No single nation can, by an act of will however godlike, dismiss another’s history. Our feckless gesture to do so in the 1990s only drove Russians into a deeper embrace of what they must save of their own: Historical memory whose passionate edge has been honed razor-sharp by us. What we did to After-Soviet identity may have been thoughtless. Our cruelty was surely casual, just as its course of dishonoring them was unseen by us, even as we told ourselves how we were doing them such big favors.

Put simply, the US treated Russia after 1991 exactly like the allies treated a defeated Germany after 1919, during and after the Versailles Conference. The United States helped oversee and then anointed the dismemberment of the Soviet Union, a geopolitical evisceration on a far grander scale than that visited on Germany in 1919. Much of this empire was glaringly artificial, so that the “loss” of the Baltic republics and the gaggle of “Stans” wrested from the body of Islam in Victorian times was no great loss, in the end, to Russian identity.

But Rossiya is a place in the heart: And thanks to Stalin’s forced movements of peoples, it is a heart that beats in the Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, as much as in Russia. A restored realm could be a crown imperial, but it might also be a looser fraternal belonging: Yet to Russians it is still the irreducible proposition of identity.

So when you ask: What is going to happen in Ukraine? What is Russia going to do? These are not questions — they are answers.

Russia is embarked today on its long-awaited Renovatio — its restoration. The term renovatio is archaic, and has its origins in the old Roman Empire. In Late Antiquity, Roman universalism was several times brought down, and the empire collapsed: First in the 3rd century, and then the 5th, and then the 7th, and then the 11th centuries. Yet Rome rose again each time. The restoration and revival of Roman power and glory in all of these great crises was always rooted in Constantinople.

After the Ottoman conquest Constantinople as imperial seat, and imperial idea, migrated to Moskva — as heir and successor. So it should come as no surprise that, like Byzantine ancestral spirits, Russians are receptive to the lure of Renovatio. Say it is in their blood, archaically, but everything in the world today is about archaic sources of identity — because they drive identity. And identity drives everything.

Russia has also had its share of celebrated, glorious Renovatios: Like throwing off the Mongol yoke; like the renewal engineered by Peter the Great, bringing Muscovy into Europe and remaking it as “Russia”; like the Soviets themselves, bringing Rossiya back from the absolute ruin of World War I and then World War II to become, for the first time, the titular equal of the reigning world power — the United States of America.

So what we are watching unfold before us is surely the hoped-for beginning of yet another Russian Renovatio — and not just a dictator fantasy, but rather a collective desire — “The Body” is being restored.

What will the restoration look like — and how will it proceed?

Belarus and Kazakhstan were easy, and it is all done now. What is useful is how these parts of Rossiya were reunited without a surface transgression of cherished international legal fiction. Reunification does not necessarily require conquest. The re-absorption of Belarus and Kazakhstan into the orbit of Russian identity speaks to a real sophistication. A looser fraternity can be just as satisfying and just as final, as forcing everyone to wear the same color on a map.

But Ukraine is not so easy.

Before 1800, the Ukraine was a contested region, with a substantial part in the West substantially integrated as a part of Poland since the 15th century, and then part of Austria (post 1772). In fact, Western Ukraine was again Polish from 1921 to 1939.

It is cruelly, wonderfully true that the Ukraine of yore was perhaps humanity’s most fertile, violent, shatterbelt border region, richest in myth and lore for all the fights and songs of fights which for hundreds of years, between Cossacks and Ottomans, Khanate fighters and Russians and bandits and …

This is the place the Russians finally tamed, but never conquered. Romanovs simply incorporated it, but Soviets had to be smarter, and also crueler. Their ideology demanded that they at least genuflect to the ideal of identity and self-rule, but Ukraine still had to be punished for its role in the civil war — to the tune of millions starved under Stalin. Yet was not the entire Soviet Union a constantly contradictory and destructive ideal of revolutionary Modernity?

But Stalin made a mistake in 1945. In the wake of final victory he insisted that Belarus and Ukraine be given seats in the United Nations General Assembly. Or was it such an error? You could argue that legitimating Ukraine and Belarus as independent states worthy of UN recognition was something of a triumph for the USSR. Here was the UN telling the world that the Soviet experiment was indeed a model of both self-determination and subsidiarity (a word not yet invented).

But such cold calculations then have surely backfired now.

The Soviets committed to a Ukraine whose borders were internationally inviolate. To revise that international determination requires a new legal construct for: 1-Ukraine as an independent nation, 2-Its relationship to Russia as a fraternal state.

What Putin is doing — and to a great extent, has already done — is to tear down the last shred of legitimate authority of the former Soviet Republic of Ukraine. Putin is saying: There are new terms, some de novo, and some hallowed in History.

But what will those new terms look like? What are Putin’s options? What is his best path? What are his limits? How far can he go before he risks self-inflicted defeat?

The future of Ukraine — or for Russia, The Ukraine — comes down to three options:

1-Ukraine as Kazakhstan and Belarus — Call Ukraine the last franchise of Russia, which is to say, something not so different from Stalin’s offering to the UN: Russia and its sister republics. Here Putin could even give back titular control of Crimea, so that Ukraine might appear un-violated and still independent. This is Russia’s best outcome — an unruffled restoration. Save for one problem: What if Ukraine fights?

2-A battle that goes Russia’s way — Ukrainian resistance will force people to choose between Russia and Ukraine. Like the 1930s (in Central Europe) the West will not intervene. Russia will offer something of a solution. It will be called Ukrainian federalism, and will involve perhaps four semi-autonomous regions: Crimea, Russian-speaking Eastern Ukraine, Middle Ukraine (including Kiev), and Western Ukraine. Check out the language maps to see how this might be parsed.

3-A bolt by far-western Ukraine to Poland — Here you must look at the most revealing language map. See that the most linguistically loyal Ukrainians were actually part of Poland from 1921-1939, and before that part of either Poland or Austria for 500 years. This Ukrainian Greek Catholic bastion also represents the purest electoral commitment to a non-Russian Ukrainian consciousness: Because there is a Polish option. Remember, Poland and Lithuania were once joined as a federation, both separate and yet together. How about a modern-day Polish-Ukrainian equivalent?

This is no exercise in misplaced nostalgia — because all the underpinning identity — alignments are still in place. Moreover, from Putin’s vantage, cutting off Western Ukraine rids him of the most troublesome obstacle to a bigger renovatio — and his place as Once and Future Czar of all the Russians.

These West-most Ukrainians are the purest of the pure. They are the heart of what we have seen these past passionate and heroically bloody weeks. They are also obdurate and ready to die in resistance to Russia. I would wager that Putin wants nothing to do with this Catholic Ukrainian, Western spirit, and equally, would be all too happy to discard this small — but fervent — piece of Ukraine, if in exchange he might reclaim the whole of Russia itself.

But consider the downsides to this outcome. Far-western Ukraine joining up with Poland would tie the Poles to its defense. Poland is the strongest army in Europe, and well poised to defend Far-Western Ukraine against a rather ramshackle Russian Army. But absent authoritative American involvement, this would mean a face off for the future between Poland and Russia — the stuff of centuries of conflict. Actors in Eastern Europe — 75 years after — would again be driving European politics — and American national security itself.

Such an outcome, with Putin marshaling a realm again of 200 millions, would mean pulling off the impossible, even the unbelievable: A Russian Renovatio.

[There is always hope. Tikhon Dzyadko teases us with the tragicomedy of Russia’s high command — Putin too — flying blind into a strategic peat bog. Remember though: Hope is not a strategy, and hope never writes history]

SOME REPLIES

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25 Fans
Oh of course – this is our fault.
I had the same thought, you did. And it’s coming from a lot of places. Rachel Maddow (who EVERYONE has told me was a Rhodes Scholar and has a PhD… and yes I know about the Walter Cronkite thing and all the other awards….) also got on the band wagon. What has me kind of confused is that even though Rachel Maddow seems to be ignorant of history before her birth, Michael Vlahos actually seems to know history, even if his take on it seems somewhat skewed in placed. I feel like I’m looking at 1930 all over again in many respects. It’s like seeing Germany move into Poland after saying they wouldn’t. I was particularly interested in Vlahos’ take on equating America and Russian in 1991 with “the way the allies treated Germany.” Hardly the same thing. And when Vlhols’ mentioned Stalin starving millions… I wondered why he left out all the other means of death Stalin doled out. But make no mistake. Putin (muscled shirt-less chest with hunting rifle) is going to war. And it’s going to be the same for the Poles this time as it was the last time. The world will stand by, convinced it will go no further.

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4 Fans
Newsweek and other sources report increasing activity from Russian hackers spreading anti Ukrainian and anti Polish opinions. It looks like Russia is well and ready.
There is nothing that world could have done to prevent current situation. Russians in their vast majority believe that it is their god given right to rule other their neighbours and every time they have a time to transform themselves into a democratic society – they choose the rule of the strong man. The Byzantine roots are strong and well.
Super User · 311 Fans
Forgive me but I can’t help but paraphrase satirically, in the spirit of the article perhaps..

(Al-Jazeera) and other sources report increasing activity from (American) hackers spreading anti (Russian) and anti (Putin) opinions. It looks like (NATO) is well and ready.
There is nothing that world could have done to prevent current situation. (Americans) in their vast majority believe that it is their god given right to rule other their neighbours and every time they have a time to transform themselves into a democratic society – they choose the rule of the strong man. The (imperialist) roots are strong and well.

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Super User · 939 Fans · Mom Taught me – Question Everything – Thanks Mom!
People are inherently tribal,…. and those who chose to ignore that, and the revolving door that is history spinning around that fact, will almost inviariably be doomed to repeat history.

West Ukraine is essentially at its core Polish/Austrian/Catholic,….. East Ukraine is essentially at its core Russian/Orthodox,…. In a lot of ways their peoples have been fighting each other for a 1000 years.

Good essay Mr. Vlahos.

2,843 Fans · Libertas Perfundet Omnia Luce
x2

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Sometimes people in The West forget that Eastern European and Russian modes of thinking need no approval from us to exist.
Super User · 311 Fans
In fact the degree of tolerance that many peoples of the “eastern” world show towards the ignorance of many politicians , governments and citizens of the so-called “enlightened” and “truly democratic” – “West” – is remarkable indeed.

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Super User · 52 Fans
Neo-Liberal west vs Russian Capitalism with billionaire Ukrainian tribal leaders choosing sides,in the end its about wealth.
Super User · 939 Fans · Mom Taught me – Question Everything – Thanks Mom!
Larry – in the end – it is almost always about wealth and/or power. This case is no exception other than their is some old Polish/Austrian Vs Russian tribal animosity layered into the mix to ‘help’ the people chose sides.

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There is one thing though.

Far-western Ukraine was a place where Poles lived, died and had to flee from after WWII when Ukrainian nationalists like Stepan Bandera killed them in dozen of thousands. Poles did not forget, and it does not matter how much they hate Russia.

And on top of that present day Ukrainian Right Sector members are dreaming of “One Ukraine – one nation” which makes #3 close to impossible.

Unfortunately, Ukrainian leadership did not consider federalism themself trying to enforce a version of “One Ukraine – one nation” idiology and no idiology at all lately.

In the end though, without outside military support, “One Ukraine – one nation” cannot become a reality: it would require bloody and brutal suppression, for which Pravy Sektor does not have the manpower.

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298 Fans
Nonsense. The author has one premise the “renovation” that he applies to widely varied situations. The issue is more complex than this and will probably be defused by some territorial and political consesions.
Agree there is something to the Russian identity being discarded on the world stage after the Cold War. Reality abhors a vacuum.
Super User · 1,003 Fans · Change is the only constant
Mother Russia today is struggling with 2 identities. 1 is the 21st century, modern, democratic Russia, the other the Soviet bear looms large. If Russia is to be as successful as China economically, I think the 2nd identity will just fade away. Because it isn’t doing so well it fuels a certain nostalgia over the old Russian empire. A yearning to the good old days when Russia was feared as an equal to the US. Putin is a byproduct of this nostalgia. All his antics are designed to get people’s minds off their economic realities & to foster the mirage that he’s the anointed one to restore Russia to its past glory. The only problem is there was no past glory to speak of.
Super User · 383 Fans · NO bird of grace ever lit on Auntie Grizzelda
Why are Americans still hung up on the communist interlude? What we are seeing here has it is roots in the policies of Peter the Great, Catherine the Great and Nicholas I as much as anything else. In fact, Putin is reverting to Nicholas’ Great Rossiya by denying the post WWII political creations of Belarus and Ukraine, both products of communism. He is insisting on an undivided Greater Rossiya, controled by the core Russiya within. That is tzarist thinking.

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flashing back to an October 2012 presidential debate where President Obama ridiculed Republican presidential nominee Romney about his concern over Russia’s “geo-political” threat.

“You said Russia. Not Al Qaida. You said Russia,” Obama said regarding biggest threats. “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because…the cold war’s been over for 20 years.”

Romney offered a powerful retort: “Russia, I indicated, is a geopolitical foe…and I said in the same paragraph I said and Iran is the greatest national security threat we face. Russia does continue to battle us in the U.N. time and time again. I have clear eyes on this. I’m not going to wear rose-colored glasses when it comes to Russia or Mr. Putin…”

MSNBC, and other commentator’s went all out in attacking Romney’s out of touch perspective on Russia, and Putin after that debate.

What are they saying now? It’s Bush’s fault!

892 Fans · There’s a RAT infestation on Wall Street
What they SHOULD be saying is that this Ukraine thing is none of our business. I haven’t heard or read anything from China about this either because they know how to keep their distance when things don’t concern them.
Super User · 2,218 Fans · Liberal. Pro-Israel. Recovering atheist.
Cross out “Russia” and write in “Germany” and then ask yourself: Why didn’t Germany start threatening the world after 1945? They had just as much historic greatness and global ambition as the Russians ever did. The difference is the Germans decided that was not the way to go, and the world has been better for it.
Germany in 1945 had been turned into rubble and divided into East and West. It may have had “greatness”, but it hardly had any power to threaten the world.

You are comparing Apples and Oranges. Or German knockwurst and Russian Borsch.

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I always appreciate historical perspective. What has happened in the past usually has a reasonable probability of repeating. Is he ambitious to be seen as Putin the Great ?

It is a good question

174 Fans
Thank you Michael Vlahos. You have answered questions I’ve had since the USSR dissolved. Overnight, the Cold War vanished from our media and seemingly, from our conscious. I meet people my age (60) who are terrified of terrorists, and who look at me with incomprehension when I question the fear. After all, you lived through the Cold War with dangers a zillion times worse, I say. They have no idea what I’m talking about, which was the risk of death without a moment’s notice and humanity’s extinction. I have wondered continually how the USSR could vanish overnight and what the humiliation must be. The answers were not found in our news media. But now, I’ve learned some truth. Our thoughtlessness is born from ignorance and giant narcissism. And Russians have memory and pride. We have hubris. .
Super User · 1,913 Fans
excellent Pete!::))
Very interesting: I think the comparison with Versailles is overblown: There was relatively little dismembering of Germany post Versailles.

On the Russian view of Ukraine I think it’s spot on, as it is on the historical divisions. Also, the language maps don’t paint the whole truth. Many in the Kiev area, like the Klitchko brothers, give Ukrainain as their mother tongue, but use Russian at home.

Also, most Russian speakers in Ukraine are not anti-Ukrainian anyway: Russian and Ukrainian are sister languages, and, in southern Russia and Ukraine, borrow words and phrases from each other. There is a pluralistic culture which many enjoy. For example, was Gogol Russian or Ukrainian? For many the answer is both!

124 Fans
Germany was forced to return Alsace-Lorraine to France, but more importantly at the time, was stripped of its colonies (mostly in Africa).
Brilliant synopsis of relevant Russian history. The partition of the Ukraine is almost the best possible outcome of this conflict, and it isn’t so good either. But alternatives are inferior.

The narcissistic nationalism of the US has blinded it to these historical realities, and democracy as a supervalue within US ideological propaganda makes most Americans think something must be done. Yet America was never a true democracy, and neither has America ever supported true democratic movements around the world. Its hypocrisy is obvious to the Russians, who no doubt feel insulted by it. And by the American belittling of the USSR, which was an attempt of the Russians to enter into the modern world against the monarchical rule of the past.

And Russia has deeper impulses here than American vanity and self-delusion. America needs to wake up to these facts, but can it overcome its narcissistic blindness?

324 Fans · capitalism is a cult
“but can it overcome its narcissistic blindness?” The answer would be h**l and no.
America marches through history while primping and preening in a vanity mirror.
717 Fans
A lot of scenarios,just one small thing,this is 21 century and we,the world and the economy are connected in a very different way than in the 50’s last century.

Even Putin will bend if Mother Russia become isolated and the economy starts to crumble,I’m sure he has a dream but he can’t have it both ways this time.

agreed. Putin needs to realize that times have changed. I just don’t think he will ever accept it. He’s not one to ever admit he was wrong

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Super User · 599 Fans
“The Body” is being restored.

Brillant article Michael! The tapestry of this region is woven with many threads.

What concerns me, is the stupidity of men. When “on earth” will the lesson be learned that you needn’t “blow up” the prize to own it?

The “body” might be restored, but if the frame and what keeps it beating – the people – are destroyed, what value is the prize worth? War has never been the answer.

Super User · 518 Fans
When the former Soviet Union ceased to exit, Mr. Vlahos is correct. Many American firms went in and made lots of money helping to write a constitution, helping the “government” sell off it’s industry (usually to a combination of black marketers and government officials). We didn’t encourage a Marshall Plan, which could have helped now. As for the other portions of his discussion – spot on – it’s tribal and has to do with Eastern or Western influence and religion. Suliman did the region no favors when he marched to Vienna. This was brough home with sterling clarity when Yugoslavia broke apart to pre-World War I boundaries so quickly. A confederaton would work, but Russia will not allow this – it is far more of an all or nothing proposition for them.
Part 1 of 2

You make some very good points.

I would have added that not inviting Russia’s Boris Yeltsin to the 50th Anniversary of D-Day on June 6th, 1994 was a mistake. When 27 million Russians, Ukrainians and other Soviet people died fighting Hitler, their sacrifice should not be seen only through a “Cold-War” lens.

Having said that, I disagree with your statement that:

“It was about how we treated a defeated idea that also happened to be a people with an identity force in history as strong as our own — and a civilization that will never let itself be dismissed.”

You seem to be conflating the “defeated idea” of Communism with “an Identity force in history” (Russian Nationalism). There is a reason that the Russians called WW II “The Great Patriotic War” and NOT the “Great Communist War”. The Russians would have never fought under that banner.

The “idea” of Communism was that Communism would spread all over the planet, until there was only ONE country on Earth: The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. America would then be just one of many such “Republics”: “The American Soviet Socialist Republic”! Certainly, if the Communists had won in Brazil in 1964 and in Indonesia in 1965, the momentum from those two victories might have proved unstoppable.

It was the “idea” of Dialectical Materialism that died in 1991—the “Dialectical Faith” that Karl Marx had taken from Hegel and Feuerbach and given to his brand of Atheism, while still remaining Atheistic.

You are missing my “Part 2 of 2”

The world can be thankful that the Communists had this “Dialectical Faith” that made them believe they could “Win” without a Nuclear War. Certainly, we could never have had a 40-year Cold War with Hitler and his successors. Nazi Germany did not have the exact same “Dialectical Faith”.

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You also write that: “…Stalin made a mistake in 1945. In the wake of final victory he insisted that Belarus and Ukraine be given seats in the United Nations General Assembly.”

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Actually, Stalin told FDR that the USSR was not simply ONE country, but 15 Nations, each of which needed a seat in the UN, especially when each of the many Capitalist countries each got a seat.
FDR countered that the United States would then ask for 48 seats –one for each of the then-48 states!
Giving separate seats to Russia, Ukraine and Belarus was a compromise between 1 and 15. It was also a way to reward the latter 2 for taking on the brunt of the war against Nazism.

Despite my quibbling, I find the concept of “The Russian Renovatio” very interesting. Maybe this “Restoration” of Russia enables it to fulfill the prophecy in Ezekiel Chapters 38 and 39 and invade Israel. (How will that end? God only knows!)

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2,843 Fans · Libertas Perfundet Omnia Luce
fascinating article – thanks
2,843 Fans · Libertas Perfundet Omnia Luce
Ukraine has long been a global breadbasket due to its extensive, fertile farmlands. As of 2011, it was the world’s third-largest grain exporter with that year’s harvest being much larger than average.[16] Ukraine is one of ten most attractive agricultural land acquisition regions.[17] Additionally, the country has a well-developed manufacturing sector, particularly in the area of aerospace and industrial equipment.
Thank you for calling the Russian capital Moskva, which is how the people pronounce it. It puzzles me that we’ve switched from saying “Peking” to “Beijing” in China, but still insist on “Moscow” (which some Western reporters even pronounce “mos-coe”).The same goes for your correct usage of “Rossiya” instead of Russia.”

But you did make one tiny error. the imperial title is Tsar of All the Russias, not “Russians.” 😉
Super User · 383 Fans · NO bird of grace ever lit on Auntie Grizzelda
Except “rossiya” does not refer exclusively to “russians” it refers to all ethnic groups under Russian control. The term “russiya” applies exclusively to people who see themselves as Russian. Rossiya is the word of the imperialist in Russian history, and was applied to anyone who the Tzarist government had or thought should be under their control, which in Nicholas I’s time would have included Russian controlled Poland and much of the Balkans, among other places.
Renovatio is coming from a Pan-Slavic ultranationalism that Putin is pandering to in order to cement his position of power. But just like the Tea Party has become a thorn in the side of its original Wall Street funders, the movement’s xenophobia and bigotry is beginning to drive Putin’s strategy.
146 Fans
1. The benevolent ignorance we expressed towards Russia after the dissolution of the Soviet Union is nothing compared to the absolute debasement of Germany under the Weimar Republic after Worl War I. The reparations alone were unprecedented and continued for years. Comparatively, Russia was treated with kid gloves, and that was because they dissolved themselves, not as a result of an armed conflict.

2. It seems that we are merely seeing a replay of what happened at the beginning of the last century. Only, the playing field has moved from Central Europe to Eastern Europe. The players are not Czech, Polish, German, they are now Ukrainian, Russian, and Tatar. Do not be fooled that the board and players have changed, its still the same game.

3. “Renovatio” sounds a lot like Hitler’s Gross-Deutschland. Prompt, concerted action by the smaller countries, banded together, could have prevented WWII. Hitler was successful, because Hitler was successful, it was synergy. From the remilitarization of the Rhineland, to the Anschluss with Austria, to his taking the Sudetenland, and then finally all of Czechoslovakia, no one lifted a finger to stop him. All of that success, without shedding a single drop of blood, only emboldened them. The bloodshed would come later, and would be of epic proportions. Stop any one of them, the synergistic link is broken, and one has a compelling argument that maybe WWII would not have happened, or might have been very different at least.

324 Fans · capitalism is a cult
Empire building is empire building no matter how one dresses it.

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651 Fans · Carpe Diem!
What a great read!! Thank you.

Poland will always have a deep despise for Russia because of the ruin it brought upon the country with communist rule. Plus, during the war… Poles viewed Germans as an efficient conquering machine and Russians as barbaric animals that only rape, pillage and destroy anything they come in contact with. Heck, they nearly wiped out my whole family. And, look at the difference in the two societies today; Russia has barely evolved while Germany prospers, as do the states in its surrounding area. What of the states near Russia?

I suspect Poland will support half of the Polish Ukranians’ movement because its easy to see WHY they would want to separate themselves from these untamable beasts.

Free yourself Ukranians…..and join the intellectual part of society…. where you truly belong. Freedom from ‘the communist state” is a great feeling and the ultimate sign of hope.

892 Fans · There’s a RAT infestation on Wall Street
It’s not a Communist State. It’s pure Capitalism without ANY regulation—just like Republicans here are pushing for.

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I don’t think the conflict in the Ukraine has much to do with the USA, and I don’t think the USA, or any Western Europe coalition, will intervene. I think that Russia will continue to occupy the Crimean peninsula, and maintain its naval base at Sevastapol, indefinitely. I think that the Ukrainians will come to accept this, and remain united as a country. There are other nations that continue to exist despit internal divisions. Belgium, Canada, China, and the USA come to mind. I am grateful that war has been averted so far, and I hope that it will be averted in the future.
2,843 Fans · Libertas Perfundet Omnia Luce
I think the US pledged to protect these nations after the wall fell in 1991.
I would take issue with one of the premises underpinning this analysis. Mr Vlahos would use similarities in Versailles and the disintegration of the Soviet Union as reasons to place the root cause of events around Ukraine as the fault of western powers, and particularly the US. The truth is better served by saying that Germany was neutered following the Great War, and that the Austro-Hungarian Empire was forcibly divided. It is also quite true that the births of various nations that occurred in the wake of the demise of the USSR was assisted or midwived by the west, but that the USSR fell apart of its own accord. Unfortunately, the analysis in the article reads more as apology or justification for this latest international armed robbery than anything else.
Super User · 105 Fans · Openly male
Ok so the USA gets bashed constantly for getting involved and now the USA is at fault for not getting involved?
who said were not involved. Heard of the leaked Victoria Nuland tape?

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Super User · 452 Fans · Bestselling, occasionally amusing, novelist
So how exactly were we supposed to treat the Russians post-splitup?
1,195 Fans · ONE from Many …
The analysis ranges over geopolitical oversimplifications and rationalizations, conflating nationalism and doctrinaire communism (whose linkage was always under question after the economic collapse of the 1970s when state planning began to unravel completely) and various ethnic, cultural and linguistic considerations which completely misses the significance of what has just happened in the Ukraine.

The word “revolution” appears nowhere in the analysis but that is what has happened and is happening in the Ukraine, at least in a key section of it.

As in Egypt, in Tunisia, in Libya, an implacable public will arose and would not be denied. A seeming dictator had made promises in one direction but then gone contrary to election promises. as in Egypt where Morsi had made elaborate promises of democritization and representation, only to later enact policies contrary to the promises. The open deception did not last long and the Egyptian people took to the streets and revolted. It most certainly was not a “coup”.

That is what this is all about and which the analysts miss. The people. Take a look at the video “I am a Ukrainian” which went viral on YouTube. It is about opportunity. It’s not about what Stalin did, or what happened in 1991. It is about the trend in a new century that will no longer allow the pretension of democracy as a substitute for the real thing.

There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come. This trumps all geopolitical rationalizations.

Super User · 383 Fans · NO bird of grace ever lit on Auntie Grizzelda
That was the best analysis of Russian policy and history I’ve read here. One quibble, the term Holy Rossiya is not just a latinization of the Russian pronunciation of “Russia”, it is a very specific term that originated in Tzarist Russia to describe those parts of the Empire that were not Russian, and to describe the Empire as a whole. There is another term, Russiya, which is used to describe the Russians themselves, apart from any other ethnic group. And the thinking behind those terms was “russification”, or the turning of non-russian groups, the Rossiya at large, into good Russiya, by, as Nicholas I put it, one third conversion, one third deportation, and one third….. (I think you get the point). Putin is a cross between Hitler and Nicholas I, bent on expansion and recovery of the Russiya still in the Greater Rossiya, and perhaps a reconstruction of the Greater Rossiya of Tzarist times.
Plausible to believe that Putin’s goal with the current Ukrainian crisis is to support the infrastructure Russia built around oil and drive the price up to a profitable $100/barrel. There will be no conflict, just some gamesmanship to produce the intended effect of sustaining Russian oil. Well played, Putin. Keep the money rolling in to Russia post-Sochi. Nice start to 2014.
Super User · 1,174 Fans · Max Baucus: What’s in your wallet?
I am amazed at the comments of people dismissing the authors contentions. Listen. If you view Russian actions of the last two weeks as an analog of of German actions in the late 1930s then certainly you can see the analog between our treatment of a defeated USSR in the early 90’s with the treatment of a defeated imperial Germany in the aftermath of WWI. We, the victors, guaranteed a short peace and the rise of a malignant German nationalism then. We clearly could have avoided or at least mitigated this had we paid any attention to it other than shouting USA! USA! USA!
Super User · 1,685 Fans · Look, . . right behind you!
The differences is the people of the various Republics chose independence it wasn’t imposed.
Super User · 1,913 Fans
This was an extremely well written and thorough piece of research, insight and news…much appreciated , expanding the profile of the truth of this issue, which many don’t care to research…i say kudos to one of the best articles on Huff!
Because much of Europe’s borders are the product of wars, the world should brace itself for these periodic flare-ups, which have caused may conflagrations on the Old Continent. The violent break-up of Yugoslavia in the 1990’s, which many thought was the logical thing to do, was the precursor to what is happening now in Ukraine. “People are inherently tribal,…. and those who chose to ignore that, and the revolving door that is history spinning around that fact, will almost invariably be doomed to repeat history” said Kurt Z. No one could have said better, especially as it pertains to European behavior and history.
Super User · 1,685 Fans · Look, . . right behind you!
The author was correct in noting the various factions in the Ukraine, but there’s something he’s missing. That’s how well armed they are and willing to destroy the Russian above ground pipelines that cover the Ukraine that transport 66% of Russia’s oil and gas exports supporting the Russian economy.

Even if thing work out well with this Russian invasion this will likely happen because it’s an expression of power from one or more militant minorities.

Sounds similar to US hegemony this side of the globe in North and South America. The difference is the sordidness of the history with the Soviet’s Stalin having no equal in brutality and genocidal terror in recent history.
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